Winter Auto Care Mistakes

Of all the things that can go wrong with our cars and trucks, on which we are so heavily dependent, the worst of them are the problems that could have been avoided with a little forethought and a little knowledge about how your automobile works.  Unfortunately, the average driver doesn’t consider the finer points of auto care until they have made a costly mistake.  So today we will address some of the common avoidable errors of wintertime that we see here at the shop.

The first tip we have to offer is never leave your windshield wipers on when you turn your car off.  This time of year we see a lot of drivers who have burned out their windshield wiper motor when the motor tried to turn wipers that were thoroughly frozen to the windshield.  In other cases the wipers remained stuck, but the wiper arms moved accordingly,  resulting in some pretty severe damage to the windshield, which required replacement.  No matter the conditions, we recommend making it a habit to turn them off when you get out.

And for the same reason you should always remove ice and snow from the windshield and the wipers before turning them on.  When there is six inches of snow on your car, please don’t turn your wipers on for a moment and then drive off.   The same goes for the side windows, where trying to move a frozen window can strip the cheap plastic parts that operate    Not only is it unsafe for you and other drivers, it could end up costing you a lot more in repairs than you ever thought a windshield wiper problem could.

And of course, have windshield chips and cracks addressed immediately to avoid further damage.  This is exceptionally important in the winter, since thermal expansion can cause the heated inner layer and the cold outer layer to push and pull against one another.  This type of pressure can turn a small repairable chip into a full windshield crack in the blink of an eye (or a bump of the road).

And remember, when the sever weather comes we are all just trying to stay on the road and get where we need to go.  Show some kindness for your fellow man and drive as safely as possible – You may just spare a life!

Safety First in Winter Windshield Replacement

Windshield replacement, and the need for it, is a fact of life – some damage just can’t be repaired.  Glass replacement in the winter can be trickier, but no matter the time of year that the damage occurs, putting off service is not a good idea.  But there are serious risks to driver and passengers when a windshield is installed outdoors in the winter, exposed to the cold and precipitation.

As anyone who lives in the Great Lakes area knows, our weather can be quite unpredictable.  With weather patterns that turn on a dime and squalls blowing in from potentially any direction, being the weatherman must be one of the most stressful jobs in Rochester.  And Ray Sands Glass has no desire to try it out.  We find it easier to keep to your scheduled appointment and our safety standards when we arrange for indoor service during the cold winter months.

The reason outdoor replacement can be such a safety risk is that weather and moisture can affect the ability of the adhesive to cure.  While the very top quality adhesives will still cure safely in cold weather, that just isn’t what everybody is using.  Some cheaper adhesives, known as standard cure, require temperatures of at least 50 degrees and 50% humidity to cure in the given safe drive away time.  Due to these factors, some “standard cure” products have been known to take up to four months to cure completely in the cold North East winter weather.  This is one of the prime examples of why we feel the cost of good products is absolutely worth the added safety value.

If any part of the car or glass isn’t properly prepared for installation or is exposed to moisture during the replacement due to unexpected weather, the new glass simply won’t adhere.  We have replaced several windshield in our shop that were removed from the car in one piece without the aid of tools.  When a technician can push the windshield out with his bare hands, it’s scary to think of what might have happened if that customer were in an accident before they made it to our shop.

Windshield replacement is a process where safety depends on the materials not getting wet during the installation – so ask yourself this question: Would you approve if you hired a repairman and he wanted to spend an hour working on your computer outside during the winter in Rochester?

You Used What as an Ice Scraper?!

We have seen some serious self inflicted windshield damage caused by customers who got got creative with improvised ice removal.  And we know that nobody likes paying to replace their windshield, but it’s all the more agonizing when it is damage that could have so easily been avoided.  Today we’ll give you some of the the good, the bad and the ugly that we have seen here at the shop.

The Good:  Honestly, the only thing we would recommend using to remove ice from your windshield is an ice scraper.   While this doesn’t help in a pinch, you should get one now and keep it in your vehicle, before you find yourself in a pickle.  Another preemptive strike you might make against the ice is an application of Aquapel, which would keep the ice from sticking so firmly in the first place.  But if you find yourself unprepared and facing in impossibly icy windshield, just be patient and run the defroster to melt the ice slowly – those few minutes aren’t likely to cost you more than a new windshield.

The Bad:  Upon searching the internet, we were surprised to find many sites that recommend using your credit card, which is actually a terrible idea.  We have replaced more than a few pieces of auto glass that were damaged by using a credit card as an improvised ice removal tool.  Not only could you cost yourself a replacement, but you might end up paying for it the old fashioned way, since the ice can destroy the magnetic strip on the card and render it unusable.

The Ugly: We have heard some pretty awful ideas for improvised ice scrapers from crushed soda cans and coffee cup lids to CDs and old license plates (ouch!).  We have even seen people who used a hammer to break the ice (and the windshield) or a screwdriver to chisel at it – all simply dreadful techniques for ice removal.

If you find yourself in and “iced over” situation without a scraper remember – just defrost to avoid the cost!

Aquapel. High-Tech Anti-Fog Windshield Treatment?

This time of year many people find themselves rushing out the door in the morning, only to see that their vehicle currently resembles an igloo with rear view mirrors.   Then one must choose which is the lesser of two evils: wasting gas and warming up the car, or standing in the cold and scraping away at all the windows – and usually do both.

Fortunately, there is another option!   Aquapel can help prevent ice and fog on your windshield from ever forming.  Since Aquapel chemically bonds to the glass, it lasts much longer than the typical silicone layer treatments like Rain X – so you aren’t stuck out in the cold trying to apply a product every few weeks.  If you apply your Aquapel now, it will last through the snowy months without streaking up from wipers and snow brushes.

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Don’t Let Your Vehicle Leave You Out In The Cold

I hate to say it, but winter is right around the corner.  Just as we prepare ourselves by switching our clothes in the closets, cutting wood for the fireplace, and making sure our furnace is in working order, we need to get our vehicle ready for the winter months too.   

Follow these simple steps to ensure your vehicle doesn’t leave you out in the cold this winter:

  1. Get an oil change and top off all fluids, brake fluid, antifreeze, washer fluid, etc.  Get a tune up. 
  2. Check your lights: head lights, tail lights, turn signals, etc. check them all!
  3. Most wiper blades last one year.  If you haven’t changed yours recently, now is the time. 
  4. Check your tires to be sure the air pressure is where it needs to be for your tires and get them rotated if it’s been awhile.  If you have snow tires, it’s time to start thinking about putting them on.
  5. Consider having an Aquapel treatment applied to your windshield as it makes it easier to clear ice and snow from your windshield. Also consider waxing your car as it will protect your vehicle’s paint/clear coat finish and makes it easier to wash off dirt and salt during the winter months.
  6. Check your battery making sure the posts and connectors are free of corrosion. 
  7. Put an emergency kit in your truck.  Make sure it includes, at the very minimum, a  blanket, flashlight with working batteries, pocket warmers, and flares.  We also suggest you keep an extra set of boots and warm clothes, high energy bars, hard candy, and a small shovel, just in case.  
  8. Remember to keep your gas tank at least half full.  You never now when you may get stuck in traffic. 

I realize that these steps may sound like a hassle; however, they can be a lifesaver in the winter months.  A little preparation now, can save you big headaches down the road.  

Stay safe!

Winter Application of Aquapel Rain and Ice Repellent

We already know that Aquapel makes it a lot easier to remove ice and snow from your windshield.  But PPG, the makers of Aquapel, specifically requires that this product be applied between the temperatures of 50 and 80F.  Which for most of us northerners means that unless you applied Aquapel in September, you’re out of luck now.  But just leave it to our customers to get creative and find a way to get things done.

We should start out by saying that 50F degrees is a rather conservative number,  as long as the air temp is a safe distance from freezing you shouldn’t have a problem.  But even with a somewhat warm (for New Yorkers) air temperature, you still have to make sure that the glass to which you are applying the product is warm enough.

Usually this can be accomplished by turning on the car and running the defroster for a few minutes.  But our customers have shared some very interesting methods for achieving this result.  We have heard of some folks using the hair dryer to warm the outside of the glass while the defroster runs inside.  One customer even applied Aquapel to his car in sub-freezing temperatures by putting the car in the garage and laying an electric blanket over the windows.

While we can’t say we officially recommend these methods, they are  a great example of creativity in the face of adverse conditions.  So fear not, Aquapel fans!  You don’t have to put that application up until next year,  just be prepared to pounce when conditions are right.

Need Help Clearing That Icy Windshield?

As winter hit us hard this week in Rochester, many drivers were faced with the problem of clearing the snow and ice off their windows. Since we already discussed some of the things that can go wrong with this process in  How to Destroy Your Own Auto Glass, today we will discuss some things that can make clearing ice and snow easier without damaging your windshield.

Aquapel is your best defense if you don’t have a garage or car port to protect your vehicle from the elements.  The same chemical bond that causes the rain to roll up and fly off at high speeds, also helps prevent ice and snow from sticking to the windshield.  The windshield  isn’t going to be cleared and shiny when you come out in the morning, but the ice will certainly be a lot easier to clear, you can often use a squeegee instead of a scraper.

It’s important to make sure when applying Aquapel that you lift the wipers and make sure to treat the entire windshield, even under the wipers.   This is essential for winter application because you NEVER want to turn on windshield wipers that are frozen to the glass.  This could bend or break the wipers or wiper arms, or worse, blow out the windshield wiper motor – which would be a big punch in the pocket, especially during the holidays.

We also found  this article on Freep.com that discusses some other ways to help deal with ice on your auto glass.  In the article, author Matt Helms mentions windshield covers, sold at many auto parts stores which cover the entire windshield and are held tight with straps that close in the doors.  And while not nearly as nice looking, we have found that a basic waterproof tarp can work well too.

But however you manage it, remember that it is absolutely imperative that your windshield, as well as side and rear glass, be completely cleared for safe winter driving.